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Philadelphia Police Uncover Alleged School Shooting Plot; Warning Signs Missed in Cleveland School Shooting Rampage?

Aired October 11, 2007 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Sadly, we have got serious stuff report on tonight.
In Cleveland, we saw what happens when the warning signs are missed. A teenager shoots up a school. Well, just outside Philadelphia, an arsenal. Somebody talked, and police listened. Tonight, we're going to show you the guns and grenades they found in a 14-year-old boy's bedroom, as well as the plot they believe they uncovered.

Also ahead in this hour, a view of pandemonium taken by a student inside the school in Cleveland after Asa Coon got in and started shooting.

And later, a 360 exclusive in the airport death of Carol Gotbaum -- tonight, recordings of her husband Noah Gotbaum's anguished call to authorities in Phoenix telling them about his wife's fragile mental state, not yet knowing what they did and not yet being told that Carol had already died in police custody.

We begin with what police say was a plan for a Columbine-type massacre. Today, police in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, displayed the arsenal of weapons they recovered from the bedroom of a 14-year- old boy, all of these weapons.

Now, most of the weapons are B.B. guns. They just look like real guns. One of them is real, however, along with a number of home-built grenades.

CNN's David Mattingly is on the scene working the story for us. He joins us now.

David, what are we learning about this -- the kind of weapons this teenager had assembled?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When the DA laid those weapons out on the table for everyone to see, it looked like quite an arsenal for an individual, particularly for a 14-year-old.

But, on closer examination, we could see that most of those were B.B. guns. There were knives. There were swords on the table. But of particular note was a .9-millimeter semiautomatic rifle. Also, that was something that the police found in his bedroom.

Police also found seven hand grenades. Four of them, they tell me, were operational. These were homemade hand grenades, not the type you would find in the Army in combat. These were hard plastic shells with gunpowder and B.B.s inside of them. And they needed a fuse inserted inside them in order for them to be set off. That fuse had to be lit before they could explode.

Four of those, they say, were operational. They found all of those in the bedroom. And they say that that student was assembling those right there in his bedroom -- Anderson.

COOPER: And what do we know of this alleged plot?

MATTINGLY: What we know is that, if there was a serious plot for him to attack this high school, it did not get very far.

He approached one other teen to help him carry out an attack on this high school, and that teen immediately went to his father, and the two went to the police, and whatever plans he had quickly unraveled.

They do not believe that an attack was imminent, because, one thing, they looked back at what they found in that house. They did not find any ammunition for that rifle that they found, suggesting he was not prepared to use it yet.

COOPER: And what do we know about this 14-year-old boy?

MATTINGLY: We're finding out that he was someone who had problems for quite a long time.

One family friend, his Karate instructor, in fact, described him as overweight, had an odd personality, went for the goth style of clothing and appearance. He got picked on a lot and seemed to be preoccupied with that idea that people were constantly picking on him.

He was being homeschooled at the time. He was taken out of public school by his parents. And the reason for that was because of bullying. We're also hearing tonight from two television stations in Philadelphia. They are reporting that the teen had a Web site, that Web site dedicated to the Imperial Cobra Army, of which the teen claimed he was the commander.

And he said the purpose of this army was to "right the wrongs I had for too long ignored."

The family friend told us that he had an obsession with weapons and with war. And, on this Web site, there is a lot of pictures of military equipment, a lot of weaponry, and there is an appeal to others to join the army. He was looking for anyone over the age of 10 to join that army and to go into combat.

Did he mean go into combat and attack this school? We will never know. But, if those were his plans, they were quickly unraveled -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, appreciate the reporting. We will continue to follow this. Just want to show you that arsenal of weapons again. Let's put the video back up that we saw today. Now, all the weapons, as David said, were in this 14-year-old boy's bedroom. His mom seemed to think it was a good idea to buy him a real assault rifle as well. It's hard to believe that.

Bruce Castor is district attorney for the local county. He's now considering charges against the boy's mother as well.

We spoke to him earlier. And I started by asking him his impressions of this young suspect.


BRUCE CASTOR, MONTGOMERY COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I think he is mentally disturbed. He has very serious self-esteem problems.

I think that the motive for this planned attack was that society had not been good to him. He was sort of an outcast in society. He has untreated mental health issues. His parents had taken him out of school about a year-and-a-half before. So, he has no school interaction and no socialization, no opportunity for the school to deal with his -- his issues, if there were any that were observable.

I think what you have are -- are parents that did not know how to deal with the situation and allowed it to escalate out of control.

COOPER: There are reports that he had been bullied in school. Is that accurate?

CASTOR: Well, I don't have any confirmation of that. What we know is that he felt that he was being bullied. But, remember, we're talking about a 14-year-old's reasoning ability, clouded by mental illness.

So, whether he actually was, or perceived that he was in his own mind, that was clearly the motivating factor for getting this whole thing started.

COOPER: And I don't know if you know, or I don't know if you can say, but what was the mom thinking buying this kid an assault rifle at a gun show?

CASTOR: She is now herself the subject of an investigation by our office and Plymouth Police Department.


COOPER: Have you made a decision whether or not to charge her?

CASTOR: I think charges are likely.

And it's a matter of finishing up the investigation as it relates to that particular the weapon and anything else that she may have bought for him. Now, I don't see any evidence that leads me to conclude that she knew that this -- that this attack was planned or anything of that nature.

I think you have a parent who has fallen down on the job in supervising a child, and perhaps indulgent on the child because she knows that he has issues. Clearly, this is inappropriate conduct. Buying a weapon for somebody who is otherwise by law not allowed to own a weapon is violation of what we saw our straw purchase law here. And that's a serious crime.

COOPER: In all that you know and all you can say, what has surprised you most about this case?

CASTOR: Well, the failure on the part of at least the mother to recognize the signs that there's a problem here and seek the proper treatment, that is really a surprise to me.

I mean, we -- we have -- we have all seen the -- the reports from the -- Columbine, with the kids with the black coats and the obviously -- obviously -- behavior that is -- clearly ought to stand out as a problem.

And we would all like to think that if we have -- one of our children started acting like that, that we would do something about it. And we didn't have that in this case. That's the most surprising thing from the defense point of view.

COOPER: District Attorney Castor, appreciate your time. Thank you.

CASTOR: Thank you.


COOPER: Of course, you only have to go back 24 hours to see that not every story ends this way, without anyone getting hurt.

Up next, our first look inside of Cleveland school when Asa Coon when on his rampage, as well as a better look inside his troubled mind.

We're back in just 60 seconds.


COOPER: Images from inside SuccessTech Academy yesterday, the terror and confusion as gunshots began to rang out.

Asa Coon had gotten inside with a pair of handguns, and shot and wounded two students and a pair of teachers, before fatally shooting himself. Police have surveillance tapes they're looking at as well. This is the photo that we have gotten of him. Federal agents are looking into how he got the revolvers, .22, as well as .38.

And, as you might imagine, everyone wants to know who this troubled kid was. His brother Stephen has a long history with the law. Police arrested him again today.

CNN's Joe Johns is following all the latest developments. He joins us now from Cleveland.

Joe, what do we know?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, it's been a day of fast-breaking developments and questions about whether authorities did enough to zero in on Asa Coon before he went over the edge.


JOHNS (voice-over): Panic in the classroom, it seemed to come out of nowhere.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: Hey, you have all got to quiet down.

JOHNS: But look back over the troubled life of Asa Coon, and the signs are everywhere.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would say sadness and anger and depression, all of them.

JOHNS: As recently as Monday, a security camera caught the 14- year-old in a fight outside school, a history of violence that led him to juvenile court and a night in the lockup early last year. It was a domestic violence charge, a disagreement with his twin sister when they were 12.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The incident started off as a fight between Asa and his sister. It escalated. The mother got involved to try to break it up. Asa turned on her and eventually struck her in the face.

JOHNS: But court records tell a disturbing story. A home detention officer wrote that the relationship between the mother and Asa is extremely poor, that Asa said children pick on him, that he had been suspended from school for 10 days last April for fighting.

Other records say Asa, at times, was out of control, attempted suicide, made a suicidal statement that authorities were looking into whether he had bipolar tendencies. He was ordered by the court to take psychotropic drugs. But one report said, he's refusing to take his meds and is in a critical state.

The county social services department had contact with Asa three times, including a B.B. gun incident, mysterious burns.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A couple that we could never figure out, they appeared to like cigarettes. There was a belief that -- he would never say how he got them. There was a belief it might have been through his older brother, you know, wrestling, fighting, roughhousing with his older brother.

JOHNS: That brother, Stephen, 5 years older than Asa, has a history of arrests, and was picked up by police just today on alleged parole violations.

"Keeping Them Honest," with this trouble on the record, should authorities have red-flagged Asa Coon before he went on a rampage? One problem is that, technically, he had only been in real trouble with the law once, not enough to set him apart from other troubled kids.

Police Chief Michael McGrath:

MICHAEL MCGRATH, CLEVELAND POLICE CHIEF: The information we have is very limited at this time. We know that he was 14 years old. We know that he did have some disciplinary problems at the school and outside of the school, and, other than that, not a whole lot. He wasn't one of these kids that were high on the list as far as a troublemaker goes.

JOHNS: His science teacher told us she knew Asa was angry, but that he was also very intelligent, well-behaved in class.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Things were going downhill, you know, not completing assignments, not doing homework, not doing classwork.

JOHNS: It's not that any one person did anything wrong. It's just that no one person saw the whole picture.

Kenneth Trump used to work in school security here in Cleveland.

KENNETH TRUMP, SCHOOL SAFETY CONSULTANT: The issue, though is that you have a kid here, like you have in many of the other school shootings, that's been active with children and youth services, with juvenile court, with the police department, with the school system. And the difficulty is getting all of those agencies to pull the pieces of the puzzle together before somebody lights the fuse and it goes off.

JOHNS: Authorities here say things are getting better in Cleveland, that the different agencies are now talking to each other, working together on puzzles like Asa Coon, too late for Asa, maybe not for others like him.


COOPER: So, Joe, how much some of this is sort of speculation. I mean, how much do we really know about what happened here?

JOHNS: Well, we do know a lot more, Anderson, based on the court records and interviews.

However, it's still very early in the investigation. The authorities are urging people not to jump to any snap judgments, as it were. Frankly, there's going to be a lot more soul-searching here in Cleveland, Ohio, over this.

COOPER: Yes, about any missed warning signs.

Joe, appreciate the reporting.

Asa Coon now joins a very ugly bunch. Dr. Steven Pitt is a forensic psychiatrist who headed a team looking into the Columbine killing. He and others performed what are called psychiatric autopsies on Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris. He joins me now in Phoenix.

Thanks for being with us.


COOPER: You know, in retrospect, everybody says, oh, well, I saw this sign and there was this. It's obviously easy in retrospect to see it.

Are there red flags people should look for, you know, when -- when these things are actually happening?

PITT: To be sure, Anderson, there are red flags to look for, things like depression, and anger, and familiarity with weapons, and fascination with the military. Those are all red flags.

But there is an art to this as much as there is a science. We can go to schools all around the country, and lots of people have those very same characteristics.


COOPER: Yes, I mean every young...


COOPER: Most young men in America have an interest in the military and weapons and stuff like that.

PITT: Exactly.

And, so, the danger becomes, we don't want to emphasize what red flags are. We don't want to emphasize checklists. We don't want to necessarily emphasize, put too much emphasis, again, on certain characteristics.

What it takes is communication, and what it takes is teachers, parents, counselors and other students to -- everyone to be in synch, for everyone to be in synch and communicate about what a troubled youth is engaging in.

COOPER: We had this clearly troubled youth today, 14-year-old boy, accused of planning, police say -- described it as Columbine- style attack on a school that he no longer went to.

I mean, to me, the thing that sticks out in that story is, you have this arsenal of weapons which police showed, many of them B.B. guns, but still very threatening-looking, grenades that were made, one actual assault rifle that this kid's mother bought for him.

I mean, if your child has this assembled in their bedroom, you have got to at least raise some questions. PITT: Absolutely. You hit the nail right on the head.

Schools are a place where we send our children to be safe, not to be shot at. That said, it starts in the home and it starts with the parents.

COOPER: I want to talk to Dr. Pitt a lot more, let you stick around.

We're going to take a short break. We're going to ask more about the weapons, how he got them, why his mother was involved in the purchase.

Back in 60 seconds.


COOPER: Back now with Dr. Steven Pitt, a former director of the Columbine Psychiatric Autopsy Project.

Dr. Pitt, you know, we -- we normally hear about kids being bullied or ostracized, and it builds up and builds up over a period of time. Do schools take bullying seriously enough?

PITT: They do now.

They take it -- since Columbine, I think there's been a real emphasis and a real looking at schools where bullying is taking place. Make no mistake about it. Bullying was under-reported at Columbine. I think schools have taken a much more aggressive look at the effect that bullying has on youths and as it relates to their acting-out behavior.

COOPER: And when does it move from bullying to -- I mean, why does it affect some kids who end up going on a rampage? Is there a difference?

PITT: Well, that -- that would be the $64,000 question. And that gets into the art as much of it is a science. And that gets back to what we were talking about earlier, as it relates to the whole notion of checklists and warning signs.

Individuals and programs that use, again, checklists or have these programs that say, look, we check off this, check off this, check off this, there's bullying, it's not that easy. You have to look at the other behaviors as well that an individual is manifesting. And, more importantly and most importantly, there has to be interplay, that communication between, again, students, and teachers, counselors, and, most of all, parents.

COOPER: The other side of this story is this young man who did come forward, and near -- in this incident near Philadelphia, and went to police, told his dad, I guess, and then all went to the police together, and basically, you know, reported what -- what this 14-year- old boy was planning. And that, deserves, you know, a lot of praise and attention, because, I mean, kids today are getting messages, don't be a snitch. Don't talk to police.

PITT: Exactly.

COOPER: That's a huge step.

PITT: Exactly.

You, again, are right on the money with this. It's chillingly similar to what happened in Columbine. And if, in fact, what they're saying at Philadelphia is true, it's important that -- that children feel safe and comfortable in reporting that another youth is having difficulties.

But, by the same token, that information has to be taken seriously. And it's -- you know, we're a society that likes to put the finger of blame on one individual or one entity or one person. But, at the end of the day, I promise you, in both of these cases, what you will see is that there was a multi-system breakdown.

COOPER: Well, clearly, something in that house in the incident in Philadelphia -- I mean, obviously, with the brother in and out of jail, the mother buying this kid weapons, there's clearly going to be a lot to be discovered there.

Dr. Pitt, appreciate you being on the program. Steven Pitt, thank you.

PITT: My pleasure. Thank you.

COOPER: Exclusive insight into another tragedy next: Carol Anne Gotbaum's death in police custody.

Only on 360, you are going to here what her husband told authorities, the actual phone conversations, as he tried in vain to warn them his wife was in a fragile mental state. What he didn't know, what they knew, is that it was already too late. And they didn't tell him that.

Back after a very short break.


COOPER: Well, the video, we all know well now, Carol Anne Gotbaum at the airport in Phoenix as police took her into custody and shortly before she died, handcuffed and shackled in a holding cell. She had a drinking problem and was on her way to rehab.

An airline gate agent had just denied her boarding. She got agitated. Police were called. She was arrested. Now, she got word to her husband, Noah, who then called airport emergency services, not knowing what they already did and would not tell him, that Carol Anne Gotbaum had died in custody.

CNN's Alina Cho and her producer have obtained copies of the audiotapes of those phone calls.

Alina joins us now with a 360 exclusive -- Alina.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, really stunning to listen to. We literally got these audiotapes within the past hour or so.

And what you are about to hear are the frantic calls Noah Gotbaum made to airport emergency services. He wanted to make sure the arresting officers knew what they were dealing with. And he pleaded with them that his wife needed to be treated with -- quote -- "kid gloves."

Keep in mind, though, by the time the first call came in from Noah Gotbaum, his wife had already been dead for more than an hour.


NOAH GOTBAUM, HUSBAND OF CAROL ANNE GOTBAUM: They are waiting for her down in Cottonwood at -- at the rehab center down there.


GOTBAUM: She is suicidal. Obviously, she has been -- she is alcohol abusive, but she is also in deep depression.

And the police have to understand that they're not dealing with someone who has been just drinking on a flight and...


GOTBAUM: ... acting rowdy. That's not what is going on here.


Oh, yeah. I think somebody talked to the other dispatcher on that earlier and we passed along that information.

GOTBAUM: Well, but, again, I have not heard anything back.

COMMUNICATIONS: Yes. I don't know. You know, unfortunately...

GOTBAUM: It concerns me, Mike, that they have not called me, that they're just dealing with her, that she is all alone, OK? Because she should not be.


CHO: And Noah Gotbaum made several calls to the airport dispatcher and to the airline, but he was never connected to police. And he was never told that his wife was dead. The airport knew. Police knew. But Noah was never told.


SGT. STEINMETZ: Terminal 4, Sergeant Steinmetz. COMMUNICATIONS: Hey, Sarge. It's Mark in the com center.


COMMUNICATIONS: Hey, I talk to Gelbach a while ago. I had this woman's husband on the line at that time, Noah Gelbach.


COMMUNICATIONS: OK. He's back on the line. He's been talking to Winston Salem Reservation Center with U.S. Airways. They have called us a couple times. And he's back with us again.

SGT. STEINMETZ: OK. I need to call -- I need to get a phone number, because we need to make -- we can't tell him what's going on right now. Well, what is he asking about, though?

COMMUNICATIONS: He wants to know what is going on with her.


COMMUNICATIONS: It sounds like, in talking to the Winston Salem, people with U.S. Airways, it sounds like, at this point, he's under the impression that she's probably in jail, that she was -- she caused a disturbance based on some emotional problems she has...


COMMUNICATIONS: ... and she was handcuffed and removed from the concourse.

SGT. STEINMETZ: Yes. That's all he needs to know right at this point. And we're going to go ahead and have our investigative team talk to him.



CHO: Now, to be clear, Phoenix police told us just a moment ago that it's just proper procedure to finish investigating what happened first before notifying next of kin.

And stay tuned. We are going to have much more tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING" and tomorrow night. Anderson, we have new information, new interviews, and some new information about the timeline and latest on the investigation. We talked to somebody very close to Carol Gotbaum. And we will have that on 360 tomorrow night.

COOPER: You know, you just feel for the husband, who is sitting on the other side of the country, trying to figure out what's happening with his wife, trying to help and reach out in some way. Just putting yourself in his shoes, it's just got to have been a terrible, terrible moment.

CHO: And, interestingly enough, Anderson, all the while that he was making those calls, he was at a picnic with his children...

COOPER: Oh, you're kidding.

CHO: ... and trying to frantically find out what was going on with his wife.

COOPER: Do you know how long it was before he was actually contacted? Do we know that?

CHO: He -- he was never contacted by police. He made several calls to the airport dispatcher. He called the airline as well, but never heard from police. Ultimately, he heard about his wife's death through friends who he sent to the Phoenix Airport.

COOPER: Alina, appreciate the reporting. We will look for more.

Up next: U.S. forces target suspended terrorists in Iraq, but civilians were also killed. We will get the latest on that.

Plus, children's cough medicine pulled off store shelves -- what you need to know when 360 continues.


COOPER: A special 360 report on the uptick in violent crime in the nation's cities and suburbs is coming up.

But, first, Erica Hill from Headline News has a 360 bulletin -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a coalition attack on senior leaders of al Qaeda in Iraq has killed 15 Iraqi civilians, all women and children. That strike happened in the Lake Tharthar region. The U.S. military says 19 terrorists were killed. It says those terrorists had put the civilian victims in harm's way.

The contracting company involved in a shooting in Baghdad last month is now being sued by families of those victims. The lawsuit, filed in a U.S. district court, claims Blackwater violated U.S. law and fostered a culture of lawlessness among its workers. Seventeen Iraqis were killed in the shooting. Blackwater says it won't comment on the matter because it is under investigation, but did add the company will defend itself vigorously.

A major recall today of over-the-counter cough and cold medicine for infants. Several leading brands, including Tylenol, Dimetapp, and Robitussin, are included in the recall. It's voluntary, by the way. The Consumer Healthcare Products Association says the drugs are safe when used properly. But some people have misused them. And that could be a danger for kids under the age of 2.

You can find the full story, as well as a complete list of those medicines, at

Pop star Britney Spears will get to spend more time with her children -- a judge today granting her one monitored overnight visitation per week. Spears had lost custody of her two sons last week -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, she did.

HILL: Yes.

Let's move on to "What Were They Thinking?" What do you think?

COOPER: I say yes.

HILL: Yes, OK. Let's do it.

This one, really unbelievable. Talk about stupid, all of it caught on tape.

A local TV station in Des Moines, Iowa, caught these kids throwing concrete and steel rods over the bridge...


HILL: ... onto an -- and onto an interstate. Oh, yeah, let's do it during rush hour. I will just pick this one up and hurl...


HILL: ... it over the side.

Luckily, motorists -- or the station, rather, who caught this called 911. Kids started to run when a police car came by. Officers managed to get two of the kids, arrested them on criminal mischief charges.

As you can imagine, of that falling debris, talk about dangerous. Incredibly, police say no one was hurt. Two cars were damaged, however. But amazing that's all there was to it.

COOPER: That is just unbelievable. I don't know. Yes, I don't know. I kind of feel like the cameraman should have, like, tried to stop it or something.

HILL: You know, I look at that and I kind of thought the same thing, like why are you letting these kids keep doing it?

COOPER: Yes. Well, anyway. Erica, thanks.


COOPER: Up next, 360 investigates the violent truths about Philadelphia, averaging a murder every day. What it means to anyone anywhere, trying to stay safe from violent crime.

Back after a short break.


COOPER: Some breaking news out of Louisiana on Mychal Bell, one of the so-called Jena 6. He is back in custody tonight. Now, you may remember, he was freed on bail recently after a bitter fight that drew national attention. Well, today a juvenile court judge sentenced him to a year and a half in a youth facility for two prior offenses, saying the alleged Jena 6-related offenses violated the terms of Bell's probation.

We'll continue to follow that story.

There was a murder last night in Philadelphia, 315 so far this year. Person for person, Philadelphia is now the deadliest big city in America.

Well, Philly isn't the only city grappling with violent crime, or small town, or suburb, for that matter, which is why we sent a team of reporters there to dig for answer that could make all of us safer, eventually. As we'll see, not yet and not in Philadelphia.

Here again, CNN's David Mattingly.


DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Chances are, someone on these streets tonight will die.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're just shooting at anything and everybody without even looking.

MATTINGLY: Philadelphians are killing each other at a rate of more than a homicide a day. Already at the top of the FBI list for big city homicides in 2006, the City of Brotherly Love threatens to beat that mark with more than 300 dead and counting.

(on camera) What's wrong with this city?

SHAUTA MCDUFFIE, SON MURDERED: It's just out of control. I hate to say it. But it just seems like to me, nobody cares what's happening to our kids.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Born and raised in South Philly, Shauta McDuffie is among parents afraid to let their children outside.

MCDUFFIE: You get killed over anything now. You get killed over a parking spot.

MATTINGLY: It's a warning she gave often to her oldest son, Tykeem (ph), who loved to explore the neighborhood on his bike. But making the 14-year-old weary of the danger wasn't easy, even when it hit close to home.

MCDUFFIE: I've been going to funerals since I was young, since Tykeem (ph) was little, I've been going to funerals, related to the same kind of violence.

MATTINGLY: And it was on her mind every time Tykeem (ph) walked out the door, including one afternoon in July. (on camera) Tykeem (ph) was riding his bike with several friends on this city street when witnesses say they were moving too slowly for the local traffic. That's when the driver in the car behind him blew his horn.

It's the kind of chance encounter that happens hundreds of times a day in this city. Only this time, it ended when the driver shot and killed Tykeem (ph).

Was he still alive when you got to the hospital?

MCDUFFIE: I'm not even sure. They said when they got him, he had -- they said...

MATTINGLY (voice-over): A scrap of police tape mashes the spot where Tykeem (ph) was gunned down.

In some neighborhoods, fallen friends are remembered with spray- painted markers.

MARC LAMONT HILL, URBAN VIOLENCE EXPERT: You see people ending disputes with bullets instead of fists. That's a huge difference from 20 years ago, even ten years ago.

MATTINGLY: The numbers are staggering. In a single, summer weekend gunfire left seven dead and dozens wounded. Some call the city Killadelphia.

GAIL INDERWIES, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: They're fearful, and they don't have hope. They don't have hope that anything's going to change.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No more violence! No more violence!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No more violence! No more violence!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No more violence! No more violence!

MATTINGLY: In September, protesters marched to city hall, urging action. They called out the names of 300 murdered men, women and children, including a handsome young man who once talked of going to college and playing basketball.

(on camera) What was taken away from you?

MCDUFFIE: I just know my life will never be the same.

MATTINGLY: And for the sake of her youngest child, Shauta McDuffie says she may leave this city for good.


COOPER: David, we've seen spikes in the murder rate before, even worse than this one. What makes this different?

MATTINGLY: What's different this time, Anderson is that the threshold for deadly violence seems to be lower than it ever has been, particularly among young men, who are settling simple disputes with firearms instead of with fists or with words. We're seeing that more and more often.

Also, you're seeing younger men, teenagers and even younger than that, carrying weapons on the streets these days. And when they use them, they're more indiscriminate where they're shooting and who they're shooting at. So you see a lot more of innocent bystanders falling, as well.

Consequently, you add both of those factors together, and experts are saying this is going to be a lot tougher to address than the previous spikes we saw before that were more attributable to gang activity and drug trafficking.

COOPER: Just terrible. David Mattingly, appreciate the reporting.

Philadelphia has the worse murder rate of the nation's 10 biggest cities. Here's the raw data.

The FBI recorded 28 murders per 100,000 residents in Philadelphia last year. Houston was second, with 18 murders last year per 100,000. At No. 9, New York City had just seven murders per 100,000. And ranked tenth is San Diego, which had just five murders for every 100,000 people who live there and live pretty safely.

One of the reasons for the high crime rate in Philly is the high number of guns on the street, as David said. Tens of thousands of people have them, and they're not hard to get. So why aren't local lawmakers able to stop the sales? We're "Keeping Them Honest", next.


COOPER: Well, on average, in Philadelphia a murder a day. And there's no getting around the fact that firearms are very easy to come by. Now, you can go by issued permits alone. Tens of thousands of Philadelphians are packing heat.

One reason has to do with politics. State lawmakers are reluctant or unwilling to give locals the authority to keep guns out of the hands of killers. It's hard to believe, but local officials really do not have that power now.

Randi Kaye tonight is "Keeping Them Honest".


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Philadelphia, getting a gun is about as easy as ordering a pizza.

(on camera) Are guns flooding the streets here in Philadelphia?


KAYE (voice-over): Each week Ray Jones, along with other community volunteers, works to convince those most at risk of being shot or shooting someone to make smarter choices.

JONES: It's about survival. People are dying in the streets, and we need to help.

KAYE: That help, Jones said, is not coming from the state. More than 85 percent of the hundreds of murders in Philadelphia this year have been committed with a firearm. Jones blames state lawmakers for failing to pass gun laws and preventing cities like Philadelphia from setting their own gun laws, even though they desperately want to.

JONES: It really would be appropriate for the city to determine its own sort of destiny. Now our hands -- our hands are sort of handcuffed.

KAYE: Back in 1994, a power struggle started, when the legislature overturned an assault weapons ban, making AK-47s as easy to get as hunting rifles.

The next year, rules were eased on concealed weapons. And Vincent Fumo, state senator and gun owner, pushed through the Uniform Firearms Act, making all gun laws uniform for the state of Pennsylvania.

(on camera) A lot of people say that that's what -- it's this act that took away the power from states -- from cities.

VINCENT FUMO (D), PENNSYLVANIA STATE SENATOR: No. They're misinformed. They're misinformed.

KAYE (voice-over): In 1995, there are fewer than 800 applications for concealed weapons here. "Keeping Them Honest", we checked and today there are 29,000 permits to carry. And it's against the law for police to ask anyone why they want one.

One law enforcement source told me permits to carry are being passed out like candy.


KAYE: Constitutional law professor David Kairys believes if Philadelphia had home rule, a lot would be changed. Guns would have to be registered and licensed, and there'd be a limit on gun purchases.

The way the law stands now...

KAIRYS: You could buy 50, 100, whatever your credit card would take. Then you can resell them.

KAYE: Kairys thinks there'd be stiffer penalties for so-called straw purchasers, too, who legally buy guys, only to sell them to those who can't.

(on camera) There's no way of telling just how many legal or illegal guns are on the street. Police have no way of knowing, since state law doesn't require gun owners register their weapons. Each year Philadelphia police recover about 7,000 guns, so many guns they're running out of room.

(voice-over) And so many shootings, police have a backlog of weapons to examine, test fire and trace back to the trigger man.

FUMO: People want to think that this is the Wild West; we don't have any laws. What we don't have is enforcement of those laws.

KAYE: Senator Fumo argues tougher gun laws alone won't stop shootings.

FUMO: Last time I checked, we had a law against murder. It doesn't prevent people from killing people.

KAYE (on camera): The governor, the mayor, the D.A., they all want stricter gun laws here. They say that's the only way to fight crime.

FUMO: Sure. It's a great way to get away from enforcement. It's a great way of avoiding the issue of hiring more police.

KAYE (voice-over): So the tug of war over lawmaking continues.

JONES: It's going to be a shooting gallery.

KAYE: And so does the killing.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Philadelphia.


COOPER: Up next, many violent crimes in Philadelphia and other big cities aren't being reported. Why? The answer may be as simple as two words: "stop snitchin'". We'll explain after this short break.


COOPER: A rule on the street, you just don't snitch. Some say it's the own way to survive a big violent city like Philly or New York or around the country, a city where so far this year in Philadelphia, 315 people have been murdered and where guns are as easy to come by as a cheese steak hoagie, but where convictions are as elusive -- elusive as witnesses willing to step up.


COOPER (voice-over): This summer four people were gunned down in a crowded neighborhood bar in southwest Philadelphia.

BILL SHUTE, SPECIAL AGENT, FBI: You have 30 people in a bar that see what happens. But when police go to interview them, there's no information. Nobody has seen anything.

COOPER: No one sees anything because of a culture of fear. Police say residents in some communities don't want to come forward, afraid to be labeled a snitch.

SHUTE: People did see what happened. They just were afraid to talk about it.

COOPER: FBI agent Bill Shute and his partner, Philadelphia police detective Pat Smith, work together as part of the FBI's violent crime joint task force. Their job: trying to convince a skeptical community to work with police and provide information that could solve crimes.

DET. PAT SMITH, PHILADELPHIA POLICE DEPARTMENT: People don't respond to help law enforcement to try and figure out some crimes, especially when it comes to crimes against family or friends.

COOPER: "Stop Snitchin'" is a tag line that's become code on the streets. And it's putting law enforcement at a disadvantage.

Homicides are on the rise, but the number of cases closed has been decreasing. As of last month, just 58 percent of this year's homicides have been solved, according to local news reports.

Here at a Southwest Philly barber shop, most of the men we asked said they would not cooperate with police if they had information.

KEVIN HARDEN, PHILADELPHIA RESIDENT: The cops can't take care of me. I snitch on that man, and somebody come after my family. Then everybody going to be dead. You saw what I'm saying? So it ain't even no point you going there. The streets can handle themselves. Survival of the fittest. That's the philosophy of the streets that I grew up on.

COOPER: Kevin Harden says it's a problem that's been woven into his social fabric of his neighborhood.

HARDEN: This the problem people don't understand about Philly. Everybody is amidst (ph) in this. Everybody got a son, or a daughter, or a sister or a cousin that is the murderer, was the murderer, was the drug dealer, is the drug dealer. So I understand the problem. I understand what the epidemic is. I realize. That's a whole other social structure going on with our people. This thing didn't develop over years and years and years.

COOPER: Even when you're the victim.

HARDEN: Look, it's a realistic thing, like I didn't go to court when I got shot.

COOPER: Law enforcement here has started using a mapping program to help their investigations. It's called a pinpoint.

SHUTE: A larger red dot would be a violent crime arrest warrant. The unhappy faces are the shootings or the homicides.

COOPER: Whenever there's a homicide, a shooting, a violent crime, Shute can quickly see who in the area may have outstanding warrants and a reason to cooperate with police. Shute said the project has helped them make more than 300 arrests in the past two years.

SHUTE: We target an area and blanket it until we come up with the information that we want. And on most of the cases that we've used this on, we've been successful.

COOPER: In fact, it was this software, Shute says, that led to the arrest a week later of a man in that bar shooting, his name given up when a witness finally talked to police.

Yet, even with this technology, police must still rely on people to talk.

SHUTE: This city needs two things. You know, we need information, confidentially. But we also need witnesses. We need people to step up, speak up and talk exactly about what happened.

COOPER: And without that, police say, violent crime in Philadelphia will only get worse.


COOPER: Up next in "Raw Politics", some raw language from a New York City councilman.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Chris. What the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) do you have in (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Get these (EXPLETIVE DELTED) people out of my office. (END VIDEO CLIP)


COOPER: So New Yorkers have a reputation for being tough talkers, even the politicians. One city lawmaker recently upheld that fine reputation in a televised interview. Wait until you hear what he said. The story is in "Raw Politics". First, CNN's Tom Foreman talks Turkey.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Relations with a key U.S. ally, Turkey, are collapsing over a pending vote in Congress. No kidding. This is "Raw Politics" with real consequences.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The House will be in order...

FOREMAN: The House is considering a resolution that says in World War I, 1.5 million Armenians were slaughtered by the Turks, called it genocide. The Turkish government hates that word, has yanked its ambassador. But backers aren't blinking.

REP. TOM LANTOS (D), CALIFORNIA: When the Turkish government says there was no genocide of Armenians, we have to set them straight.

FOREMAN: The White House is asking Congress to drop the matter, because a huge portion of the supplies from our troops in Iraq flies through Turkish air space, and that could be shut down.

On the trail. Republican John McCain trots out his plan for health care reform. More free market competition. Tax credits if you buy health insurance.

He says government funded reform, supported by the Democrats, just won't work. He says, hey, who's going to pay for it?

(voice-over) Senator Hillary Clinton is paying. Five years ago this week, she voted for the war in Iraq. Barack Obama has always opposed it. Happy anniversary.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think her judgment was flawed on this issue.

FOREMAN: And New York councilman James Otto, a Republican, lured into an interview with a Norwegian comedy show. But when he's hit with tasteless question about Obama and Clinton, it's a Brooklyn bon voyage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out of my office before I throw you the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of my office and I take your cameras and I throw them out the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) window. All right. I don't know what (EXPLETIVE DELETED) game you're playing, but that's going to be (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

FOREMAN: Raw politics.


FOREMAN: As they say in Oslo, (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Yes, you bet you -- Anderson.


COOPER: Wow. I think he took off his jacket there, ready to fight, ready to do a little fisticuffs.

Well, up next, a deadly attack on a U.S. base in Iraq. Plus suffering in Burma. Videos smuggled out and stories being shared with the world. 360 continues.


COOPER: Coming up, the "Shot of the Day". Just in time for trick-or-treating, the great pumpkin drop. Yikes. Anyway, we'll explain that in a minute, but first Erica Hill joins us with a "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Erica.


HILL: Anderson, we begin with a deadly attack of the U.S. military base in Iraq. Two soldiers killed, 38 others wounded. It happened yesterday at Camp Victory. That's near Baghdad International Airport.

More than 3,800 U.S. military personnel have been killed since the Iraq war began.

At the U.N. today, condemnation of a violent crackdown in Burma, also known as Myanmar. The Security Council saying it, quote, "strongly deplores the military government's violence against demonstrators.

Meantime, at least a dozen free prisoners described brutal treatment at detention centers. One of those told a group of journalists dozens of detainees had been killed.

On Wall Street today, a bit of a down day, tech stocks leading in sell-offs just before the closing bell.

The Dow dropped 63 points to close at 14,015. The NASDAQ, which led the retreat, dipped 39 points, ending the session at 2,772. While the S&P lost 8.

HILL: And in London, the start of what could be the most expensive divorce battle in British legal history. Paul McCartney and Heather Mills in a London courtroom to work out a settlement that is expected to cost the former Beatle more than $100 million.

And they're saying the breakup is amicable, Anderson. The London tabloids, though, of course, don't seem to think so.

COOPER: Wow, yes. That's -- $100 million. That's a lot.

HILL: Can you imagine that?

COOPER: There you go.

HILL: Must be nice.

COOPER: Must be nice idea. Let's take a look at "The Shot", shall we?

HILL: Let's do that.

COOPER: Let's do that. It's the old pumpkin festival. You know, there's a pumpkin shortage in some parts of America. Didn't stop an Oregon town from enjoying the annual...

HILL: Whoa.

COOPER: ... Great Pumpkin Drop.

HILL: My goodness.

COOPER: Yes, it weighed nearly 1,000 pounds.

HILL: That bus didn't stand a chance.

COOPER: I could watch this over and over again. It was dropped 100 feet in the air on to an empty bus. And then the kids come running to gather up the pieces of...

HILL: Get your piece of the pumpkin, go home, make your mom a pie.

Good stuff.

COOPER: Yes, very good stuff.

We want you to send us your "Shot" ideas. If you see some smashing pumpkins or other videos, tell us about it:

Much more ahead tonight. A troubled kid, an arsenal of weapons. Does it sound familiar? Well, police say they foiled a Columbine-like plot in Pennsylvania.

Also tonight, new video and new information about the school shooting in Cleveland. What we learned about the teenage shooter after this very short break.


COOPER: Tonight in Cleveland, we saw what happens when the warning signs are missed. A teenager shoots up a school.

Just outside Philadelphia, an arsenal. Somebody talked, and police listened.

Tonight, we're going to show you the guns and grenades they found in a 14-year-old boy's bedroom, as well as the plot they believe they uncovered.

Also ahead in this hour, a view of the pandemonium, taken by a student inside the school in Cleveland, after Asa Coon got in and started shooting.